virus: Karma

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 12:15:09 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Mon, 21 Jul 1997 10:08:36 -0600
>From: David McFadzean <>
>My view is that Karma is a special kind of Justice[1]. There are at least
>four ways bad things can happen to bad people:
>a) as a natural consequence of their evil ways (the liar and thief loses
>the trust of others, and becomes a societal outcast),
>b) as an artificial consequence (the liar and thief is captured, tried,
>and incarcerated),
>c) as a random occurrence (the liar and thief is coincidentally killed in
>a genuine accident),
>d) as a cosmic retribution (the liar and thief dies and comes back as
>a rat).
>a, b and c are real manifestations of justice. People that believe in
>justice act (consciously and unconsciously) to make a and b happen.
>People that believe in Karma mistake c for d, but evidence suggests
>that Karma is a myth. The universe is not fair[2]. It is up to humans
>to create justice.

Agreed. however, instead of calling Karma a [mistaken] myth, why don't
we try to understand what the idea is trying to get at? What I'm saying is,
instead of falsifying the vague term, why not determine in what sense
we belive it to be true?

For instance, I think that [a)] in your scheme above is much more significant
than you seem to give creedence to. In my life Karma is quite evident. I try
in ernest to be good and help the people around me. It's funny, most of the
time I don't think people appreciate or notice these small gestures. However,
over my life I have, like most people, had a few crises...and suddenly
assistance seems to "come out of the woodwork" of my existence. People
go out of their way to bring interesting articles and resources to my attention.
They sell me used stuff for almost nothing, or give it to me. I don't rely
on such things...but it seems like my life sort of floats on the good will I
generate in my day to day life. People give me "the benefit of the doubt"
which, given how little information we have to base our decisions upon,
is quite an advantage. People tend to interpret my ideas in the best possible

Now, am I making a "Karma profit" through this informal network? I don't
think I can answer than question. I think <market paradigm> and <karma
paradigm> operate within orthogonal principles of being...and I wonder if
the act of disecting the frog might destroy a certian extent people help
me becuase they believe that I don't expect it, and give freely of myself.
Even this exposition on the subject makes me a little uncomfortable; if people
know I know then I can no longer convincingly play the innocent fool.

People are very complicated. The mechanism of meme transmission is an
order of magnitude more complex still. There is no reason to believe that
Karma does or does not describes a cultural phenomena so complex
and recursive that logic fails to map it. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist,
as logic is not a litmus test for truth (ask Godel). This doesn't mean
it does exist, either.

The concept is, thus, very like <God>, and <Faith> approximation one
waves a hand towards when invoking things far beyond their grasp.

It is only the snide intellectual, however, who laughs at such vaugeness and
denies the value of such concepts. Language is slippery--a "strange loop"
(and here I'm invoking Hofstadter's "GEB" strongly)--all formal
systems will eventually invoke such <God> memes. If you are a good
debater you can bury your inconsistencies or convince people of their
non-existence...but that's not much of a victory, there will always be
a stronger and more careful analytical engine than you.

So why criticise? In the vaugest of terms there is the essence of truth.
Why throw away that essence with the bundle?

>[1] Since our legal system is so entangled with the concept of justice, we
>often equivocate the terms. Justice is "simply" when good things happen to
>good people and bad things happen to bad people. The legal system was created
>to try to make the latter half of justice a reality (with varying degrees of

I could argue that the legal system was self-generated for no end other than
to perpetuate itself. This would be memetically consistent. Thus, from a
memetic perspective, the burden of proof would rest with you (or someone
else) to PROVE that a legal system actually does, or even INTENDS to do
something "good".

Of course, that isn't the only persepective from which to approach the issue.

>[2] Bad accidents don't happen statistically significantly more often to
>bad people than good people and vice versa.

Are "bad" people, statistically more or less "happy" or "contented" than
"good" people?

Wanna define some terms?



Reed Konsler